Water rights issues have been one of the enduring concerns of Manushi since its inception. We have published several investigative reports on the impact of water scarcity on the farm sector, especially lives of women in rural and urban areas who have the primary responsibility for meeting with the family’s water and food requirements.
Manushi also played a key role in getting the government of Narsimha Rao to order an independent audit of the Tehri dam. However, the dam was not abandoned at the time. But the issues raised by those of us opposing the Tehri Dam have acquired far greater urgency today because our worst fears about its negative impact have come true. River Ganga is highly polluted and half dead by the time it reaches Haridwar. Thereafter, it becomes a mere drain for carrying sewage and industrial waste.
Since the last one year Manushi has joined hands with Tarun Bharat Sangh which has mobilized Jal Biradris all over the country to not only save their local water bodies but also their dying rivers and streams. Apart from trying to organize an active Yamuna Jal Biradri in Delhi, Manushi has become an active partner in the all India Ganga Yamuna Satyagraha. In a recent Ganga Yamuna Panchayat organized jointly by Tarun Bharat Sangh and Manushi, the Minister of Environment accepted one of our main demands that the new Ganga Yamuna Action Plans make legitimate space for citizens’ participation.
The Ganga Yamuna Satyagraha involves the following tasks:
1) Ground level data gathering on the sources of pollution all along the route of Ganga and Yamuna-- from Yamunotri and Gomukh to Ganga Sagar through the Jalbiradris of these areas.
2) Set up an active website to disseminate information and create an active, ever expanding network of Jalbiradri activists.
3) To train water activists into scientific methods of monitoring the new Ganga Yamuna Action Plans.
4) To press upon the Government to set up effective institutional mechanism for transparency and accountability, including for active citizen participation in the shaping and execution of the new Ganga Yamuna Action Plans.
5) Mobilize citizens settled around the banks of these sacred rivers as well as their tributaries to take charge of protecting the stretch of river that passes through their own area.
6) Network with water and river experts as well as technologists who have successfully evolved low cost, eco friendly methods of cleaning up sewage and industrial waste water.
7) Prepare booklets, short films and other material to educate people on the state of their rivers as well as effective ways to save them.